Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 7: A Summary of Recommendations

This is the seventh and final post of a seven-part blog series that chronicles and attempts to dissect and explain the recent and growing issues and challenges negatively affecting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In order to help preclude future abuses and to provide better service to America’s veterans, VA must address the underlying resource issues that contributed to its current problems. It must incorporate realistic numerical goals within the context of balanced scorecards subject to verification that measure overall service rather than performance on individual measures.

It must:
1) Ensure that every facility has an internal quality review system that reviews the accuracy of its data.
2) Schedule periodic independent on-site reviews of VA facilities and examine the same issue.
3) Establish an on-line program that identifies questionable or out-of-line actions by VA offices.
4) Conduct customer surveys that compare the experiences of veterans to the data reported by VA and addresses any inconsistencies.
5) Encourage whistleblowers to report improper actions, but verify the accuracy of their allegations.
6) Take appropriate action against individuals who manipulate the data.

Unless the entire Federal government makes a concerted effort to change the mindset of its supervisors, while rebuilding its Human Resources Management expertise, this will continue to be a problem not only in VA, but also across government.

imagesVA (and the rest of the Federal government) needs to dramatically improve the way it develops its supervisors at all levels so that they motivate their employees, build an open and honest relationship with them, and ensure that there are reliable consequences for every level of performance.

VA should test the concept of having teams of leaders in a few facilities that are experiencing problems with employee involvement and engagement, as well as overall performance. If, as expected, it works well, VA should consider expanding the concept to other facilities.

VA’s systems and processes, and ultimately its culture, were perfectly designed to produce the results that VA got. If VA wants different results, it needs to redesign its systems and processes.

The law should not have been changed to strip most of the employment protections from VA’s senior executives.

Read the entire Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Blog Series:

Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 1: A Brief History of Growing Troubles
Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 2: Resources Have Not Kept Up With the Workload
Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 3: VA’s Goals Are Unrealistic; Its Metrics Need to Be Revised

Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 4: Inaccurate Data; Inadequate Technology

Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 5: VA’s Culture

Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 6: Dedicated Servants; Temptations to Go Rogue

Challenges Facing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Part 7: A Summary of Recommendations

About Stewart Liff
Stewart Liff is an HR and visual performance management expert and leading author on managing and transforming government agencies, as well as president of Stewart Liff & Associates. He is also the author of a new book 98 Opportunities for Improving Management in Government, as well as Managing Government Employees and co-author of A Team of Leader and Seeing is Believing.

Go now to download a free chapter from my book A Team of Leaders: Empowering Every Member to Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, and Deliver Results. Get a deeper knowledge today about how you can put into play a better way to get your business on the path to success.